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Men with prostate cancer avoid radiation due to misconceptions

Negative perceptions about radiation therapy can strongly influence a prostate cancer patient's choice to avoid external beam radiation therapy, even though studies have proven the treatment to be as safe and effective as other treatments for the disease, including surgery, according to a study presented November 5, 2006, at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's 48th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.

"The study shows that patients base their treatment choice not only on technical information, but also on cultural and personal prejudices," said Riccardo Valdagni, M.D., an author of the study and head of the Prostate Programme at the Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori in Milan, Italy. "It's important for patients to express their fears about radiation treatment to their doctors and for doctors to consider these worries and address any misconceptions about this therapy so that patients can make the best, most informed decision about their treatment."

Men with prostate cancer often choose between external beam radiation therapy, radiation seed implants and surgery to treat their cancer. During external beam radiation, a beam of radiation, or X-ray, is directed through the skin to the cancer and the immediate surrounding area to kill the cancer. To minimize side effects, radiation is given five days a week for several weeks. Many men with prostate cancer choose external beam radiation over other treatments because it is non-invasive, has a short recovery period and often helps men preserve their sexual and urinary function.

However, Dr. Valdagni's study shows that some men with prostate cancer have definite fears about radiation treatment, with the greatest worries related to false beliefs on how the X-rays would affect them. For example, some patients think that radiation cannot be controlled because it is invisible, that it will harm surrounding unprotected organs and that it is dangerous for family members t
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Source:American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology


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